Frank (Just Frank)
The Brutal Wave
Manhattan's Wierd Records has slowly been inching towards greater visibility—a Sisyphean task considering their claustrophobically narrow focus on new bands who recall the not even popular in retrospect sounds of Parisian synth-pop circa 1981. The latest, from Paris via London via New Jersey duo, Frank (Just Frank), is firmly within that aesthetic, but more than previous releases, the textural focus is on lush, pretty guitar lines. While the tone remains mopey, it's not as spartan as the minimal synth acts that complete their roster. The rub is that the deeply intoned, yet still somehow mumbled vocals (alternately in English and French) aren't as compelling as the music. Marrying this tasteful frost to an increased dosage of pop immediacy seems like the formula for a wider breakout.